Petrocelli's Goofy Idea
We return here to one of Petrocelli's more entertaining ideas -- still believed only by his hard core admirers -- that Simpson entered his property when he returned from Bundy by going through the property of his neighbors to the south, the Salingers, vaulting the fence separating that from his south wall, and crashing into Kato's wall, causing the thumps that Kato heard.
BLOOD DROP TRAIL: Previously, we have presented a wide range of objections to this goofy idea. The most fundamental is the trail of blood drops (see Figure 1 [JUMPFENC.JPG]). There is...
* A drop in the street near the Bronco's back bumper.
* A drop on the outside of the gate and near it.
* Two drops just inside the gate.
* Several more drops on the driveway inside Simpson's property.
These appear to make a rather simple and direct trail from the Bronco on the street, through the gate, and to Simpson's house. But, that is too ordinary for Petrocelli. He says that Simpson went up to the gate (maybe to push something under it), spontaneously stopped bleeding, ran around through the Salingers' yards, crashed over the fence, and came back to the front gate from the inside (all without leaving any blood) then spontaneously started bleeding again (wouldn't you know!) maybe as he picked up the unhinted at thing he had pushed under the gate, and then moved, bleeding again, from the gate to the house.
SPONTANEOUS BLEEDING: In proposing this idea, Petrocelli draws on the familiar phenomenon that small wounds stop bleeding spontaneously, and sometimes they may also start bleeding spontaneously before they quit bleeding for good. However, this is not a capricious phenomenon. A wound stops bleeding because it contains coagulants that solidify on exposure to the air. But, that fresh scab is fragile, and so it may be brushed off, or -- if it is on a flexible part of the skin, as a joint -- it may be flexed open, and the wound begins to "spontaneously" bleed again.
Unfortunately for Petrocelli's silly scenario, he must imagine that Simpson just happens to stop bleeding when he is at his gate (unlikely, but possible), and then he runs through the neighbor's yard, culminating with a thunderous crash against Kato's wall. This should be an event of some trauma, and if the wound were of a sort that it was susceptible to "spontaneously" starting to bleed again, it would begin then. The fact would be indicated by a continuation of the blood trail starting at Kato's wall and going to the front gate, according to Petrocelli's concept. But, no such trail is seen.
So, in order to accept Petrocelli's story about this, we have to believe that the wound did NOT start bleeding upon the trauma of crashing into the wall, but DID start bleeding from no apparent cause after Simpson went all the way back to the inside of the Rockingham gate. Ridiculous!
THE SILENT UNLOCKED GATE: Apparently, Petrocelli saw the need for this convoluted idea because he thought it was required to explain why Park did not hear Simpson come in the Rockingham gate. Also, there was talk that Simpson didn't have his house keys with him for the trip to Bundy, and thereby, Petrocelli imagined that Simpson could not have got in his gate. (Actually, the "no house keys" ideas makes sense, insofar as if Simpson had the house key with him, he could easily have unlocked the laundry room door and got into the house unseen in that way.)
But the Simpson video interview tape clearly shows that the Rockingham gate can be left unlocked but closed in such a way that it is simply opened by pushing on it, and in that mode it is as silent as a whisper. Also, Fuhrman, in his book, mentions that once the Rockingham gate was opened from the inside cops went back and forth through it all morning without any problem. So, when observable fact replaces Petrocelli's imaginings, there is absolutely no reason to invoke the complication of Simpson running through the Salingers' yard. If the gate was left unlocked (as Simpson said he usually left it) he could get back through it silently upon his return by just pushing on it.
THUMPS BECOME A CRASH: In the preliminary hearing and the criminal trial, Kato described the sounds he heard as "thumps," and in the trial he even illustrated the sounds by pounding three times on the railing of the witness box with his fist. Of course, such thumps are not consistent with being caused by Simpson's body crashing into the wall, but are a description of sounds caused by a fist pounding on the outside of the wall. So, Petrocelli "fixed" Kato's testimony. In his book (p. 451) Petrocelli says that he coached Kato in advance of his testimony, and when Kato came out of that process -- surprise! -- he continues to use the word "thumps" after all, but now "interprets" that he had heard, "like someone falling back behind my bedroom wall." He had only said, "thumps," in every earlier appearance because, it was then claimed, he could not describe it with any other words that had occurred to him. (In the criminal trial Marcia Clark asks him "Could you demonstrate...?" If pounding on the witness railing was not a correct demonstration, the obvious answer to her question would have been "No.")
"KNOCKS": As a small aside, there was a brief flap in the late summer of '94 when a friend of both Kato and Rachelle Ferrara appeared with a sensationalized version of the phone call between the two. She claimed that after the murders were in the press Rachelle called her in some distress with a somewhat different story than the press had reported. It never came to anything (probably because of the hearsay status) but in interviews, this third-party, Teri Fiddleman, claimed that Rachelle had said that Kato told her on the phone of hearing three "knocks." "Knocks" is even more specific than "thumps" as describing the sound of a fist on a wall, and distinguishing it from a body crashing, but it may have been the word that Kato used to describe the sound when he first heard it.
THE IVY BED: The front of the Salingers' property is planted in ivy -- it is a bed more than a foot thick and solid, and thirty or so feet deep back from the street. If Simpson undertook this supposed odyssey, he would be first faced by this obstacle which would be hard to trudge through, and if he tried, it would leave a clear trail of broken ivy plants. None of that was seen, so Simpson did not go through the ivy. To avoid that he would have to run down Rockingham about 100 feet from the Bronco and go up the Salingers' driveway -- completely out in the open. Then he would have to explore and negotiate unfamiliar walks and driveways to get to the place of his supposed penetration back to his own property. While none of that is impossible, it does not seem like an attractive choice for a man who is trying to be furtive. (He could have simply climbed over the Rockingam wall in the same way that Fuhrman climbed the Ashford wall a few hours later.)
A HEDGE OF TREES AND VINES: In a previous article, "Simpson's Back Walkway" I presented illustrations in Figures 11,12,13, and 15 that show the detail of the hedge that is against the fence between Simpson's back walk and the Salingers' property. (Simpson would have to go through this hedge to get over the fence.) It is composed -- as seen in those figures --of close-spaced eugenia trees with trunks the thickness of a man's leg, and branches the width of an arm; it is woven up and down and back and forth with vines thicker than your thumb. Such a hedge is impenetrable without tools, labor and time. One can not just brush them aside, as Bob August conveniently imagines.
Furthermore, even with a lesser hedge that one might negotiate, the process -- especially in the dark and by one in a hurry -- will produce numerous cuts and scratches on hands, arms, and face. No such cuts and scratches were seen on Simpson when he was examined after the crimes. (Bob August has asserted that Simpson would have been protected from such injuries by his clothing, but only Bob goes about in clothing that covers his hands and face. Shively testified that when she saw Simpson that Sunday night, his forearms were bare.) Nor was there seen in the vicinity of the glove the next morning the extra debris of fresh broken twigs that such a penetration would have produced.
Then, there is the question of the height of the hedge. In the vicinity of Simpson's laundry room, it is eight feet high; down near Kato's room it is twenty or more feet high. If Simpson were in a position to scale the fence, and of a mind to do that, it is nonsensical that he would deliberately go farther to a place where the passage was more formidable.
THE INCONVENIENT CARPORT: Now, we have discovered a video clip from a very intrusive KMEX film crew (even though the graphic shows "CNN") who heard in January 1995 that Rosa Lopez might testify. On a rainy day they caught her coming home, and chased her up the Salingers' driveway [Figure 2, CARPORT.JPG], past the foot-deep ivy bed, trough the parking place in front of the house, and up the driveway on the north side (toward Simpson's south walk). They were filming all the way, and all of these details are shown. In the final scene, Lopez has progressed beyond the cameraman to her door, and the camera is looking east up the Salingers' wet driveway to its end. At that place there is clearly the carport, though from that perspective it is simply a windowless one-story building of solid wall. It is seen to be hard up against the eugenia hedge (which actually grows somewhat out around the side of the carport), and there is absolutely no room for a person to squeeze between the hedge and the fence. It also clear that the hedge in that place reaches above the roof tops. Closer at hand (near Simpson's laundry room door) this image confirms that the hedge is only about eight feet tall, but obviously still formidable and impenetrable.
This carport is also visible in an aerial view of Simpson's estate that we saw recently for the first time [Figure 3, AERIAL14.JPG]. Most of Simpson's estate and the Salingers' driveway is visible, and at the end of the driveway is "C," the Salingers' carport. I have drawn a line across the west end of the carport, over the hedge, and onto the bungalow annex at Simpson's place. Then I took distances along the annex from a scaled drawing of Simpson's house; from that I determined the percentage distances of walls in the bungalows.
By plotting these locations into Figure 3 we can see where the landmarks in the bungalows occur. We see that the Office/Kato wall about coincides with the beginning of the Salingers' carport, and we see that the air conditioner is farther down Simpson's south walk. (See also the aerial view of Rockingham at Lange & Vannatter, p. 178+1, bottom.) Therefore, Simpson could not have scaled the fence on the Salingers' property line and clawed his way through the hedge woven of trees and vines, because the back wall of the Salingers' carport blocked access to the fence.
THE YARD LIGHT: Close examination of Figure 2 shows that there is a yard light on the edge of the carport roof, about ten feet from the fence, and pointing toward the camera. (The picture was taken during daytime, but it was a gloomy rainy day, and apparently the outdoor lights were on.) This western edge of the carport is the closest point in the open part of the Salingers' property to Kato's wall. So, if Simpson had attempted to scale the fence as Petrocelli imagined, he would have picked the brightest, most conspicuous place in the Salingers' yard to do it. Of course, that would be contrary to the whole furtive purpose of his being back there. Just another nonsensical premise to Petrocelli's goofy idea.
THE CLINCHER: Finally, we went back and reviewed the "Good Morning America" tape for the scene in which the reporter ducks under Kato's air conditioner and continues down the back walk toward Arnelle's room. It is seen that the sunlight coming through the bottom of the fence stops abruptly at about ten feet before the air conditioner, and starts again about ten feet after the air conditioner. This shadow, of course, is caused by the Salingers' carport immediately on the other side of the fence. In Figure 4 [EDGE_CP.JPG] we show the situation as the reporter has passed the east (far) side of the carport. A red arrow has been added to show the location of the sharp edged shadow of the carport wall beyond the air conditioner brace. From this, it is clear that the Salingers' carport extends east/west across the area where Petrocelli imagined that Simpson jumped. Also seen in Figure 4 -- but clearer in the video -- is the fact that this wall is very close -- a foot or so -- to the fence. There is no way that Simpson (or any other grown man) could get between the carport and the fence to climb the fence.
This understanding is confirmed in Figure 5 [KATOS_RM.JPG] where two interior views (from the west and from the east) of Kato's room are shown. The position of landmarks (air conditioner, bed, picture on the wall, and ends of the room) can be seen in that. In Figures 13 and 14 of "Simpson's Back Walkway" the relative position of the fence post, the air conditioner, and the evidence glove can be seen. From this information it was possible to create the plan of Figure 6 [KATO'SRM.JPG] which shows the detail of the inside of Kato's room and the area outside his south wall. Using the information from Figure 3, it also was possible to plot the location of the carport into that figure, too. As can be seen in Figure 6, the location of the "three thumps" is about five feet beyond the west wall of the carport, and is hence completely inaccessible as a place where a person might jump over the fence.
CYNICAL PETROCELLI: The worst part of this sordid fact of the carport is that Petrocelli KNEW that the building was blocking access to Kato's wall, and he manipulated the testimony in the civil trial to conceal the fact (the word "carport" does not occur in the civil trial transcript in connection with the Rockingham locale). If you search on "carport" in Jason's deposition or Simpson's (day 7) you will find examples of the fact that Petrocelli knew about the carport before any witness told him about it. Understanding the problem of the carport blocking access to the fence, Petrocelli asks Jason to speculate with him...
Q: Now, why would it be not possible to climb the fence from the Salinger property onto the Rockingham property after that point [near Kato's air conditioner] where we just stopped?
A: 'Cause there's a succession of trees that are probably about six inches apart and probably about four inches in diameter that are right -- I mean that go from here all the way back. (Indicating.) So, I mean, you'd have to be a pretty thin dude or female to slip through them. And they got branches.
Q: Is there a carport on the Salinger property?
Q: Are you able to get on that carport and then jump over?
[Attorneys express incredulity.]
Q: Okay. Are you able to -- could one get on that carport and then jump over at that point?
A: I believe the trees don't stop at the top of the carport. They continue up. So not only would you have to be skinny, you'd have to be a pretty good hurdler.
So, Petrocelli knew, before the trial ever began, that the carport blocked access to Kato's wall, and that the only way to get to it was to climb up on the carport roof, and then leap (in the dark) into the chasm beyond the eugenia trees of the hedge. As we saw in Figure 2, the carport is a smooth-sided (apparently) windowless building, probably of stucco walls, and no stairway; it has a peaked roof. To get on the roof would require a ladder, and there is no indication that Simpson knew whether the Salingers had a ladder, or where it was kept. Therefore, to fit Petrocelli's story, Simpson would have had to go down his own back walk, get his ladder, take it out on Rockingham, carry it back to the Salingers' carport, climb up on the roof, pull up the ladder and set it down onto his own property, jump down into the inky void (rather than climbing down the ladder), collect the ladder, and put it away so no one would be the wiser. No wonder the attorneys expressed incredulity at the concept!
Petrocelli pulled the wool over the court's eyes and the public's, and he was probably proud of that accomplishment. Even though the images that prove the contrary have been out there for eight years, the hard core Petrocelli followers still believe the attorney's deception. This seems a particularly cruel trick for Petrocelli to pull on his fans; they have defended him through thick and thin, and with this concept he has led them to be shown up as fools -- their idol is false, after all. Ah, poor Bob August, and any others who thought Petrocelli was an honorable and honest man.
CONCLUSION: For MANY reasons, the concept that Simpson got onto his property by jumping over the fence from the Salingers' property is dumb. Even Petrocelli could not have believed that this really happened, and today, only his few remaining disciples believe it.
But, believing Petrocelli has always been more a matter of faith than reason.
(Simpson entered his property on returning from Bundy by going through the Rockingham gate.)
Dick Wagner ( Van Nuys, CA (12/27/02) GOOFY.TXT